After shocking the world by assaulting the American Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, the Japanese forces quickly moved to conquer the US-controlled Philippines; this was their one chance to seize the entirety of the Southwest Pacific and claim the resource-rich Dutch East Indies for themselves. Isolated and weakly armed, General Douglas MacArthur’s troops in the Philippines were suddenly overwhelmed by a superior force. Still, Japan was gravely mistaken if it believed the US would relinquish the precious archipelago and its 7,100 islands without a fight. The Empire had to pay with blood for every inch of land gained as they slowly pushed the Americans south to the Bataan Peninsula. Then, a month into the invasion, the defenders had a glimpse of hope when they achieved the impossible: stopping a major offensive at the Orion-Bagac Line.
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